And the man died:
*Killed few days to father’s burial
*In Warri bomb blast
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
IN the world of militants in the Niger-Delta region, Commander Jay ( not real name) is not ranked amongst the first 200 and in Delta state where he hails from, he is not reckoned with in the first 50, but, by leading the squad that detonated two bombs, 200 metres away from the Government House Annex, Warri venue of the post-amnesty dialogue by Vanguard Newspapers, March 15, he has become a hero of sorts in the gun enclave.
He is neither the financier nor the sponsor but the role he and his co-conspirators played aborted the jaw-jaw, which the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger_Delta (MEND) has since claimed responsibility for. Information at the disposal of Saturday Vanguard indicated that just four persons carried out the bomb explosions that vibrated the oil city of Warri .
Community disowns him
Those who claimed they know him said he is based in Patani, Delta State, but, the chairman of the community, Hon Sunday Bomababe, disowned him and said he is not from the community.
â€œThere is no militant camp in Patani and we donâ€™t know anybody called by that name. We are disturbed that our community is being associated with the said militantâ€, he fumed in an interview with Saturday Vanguard.
â€œPatani is a peaceful community and the only militant leader that was here sometime ago is one Commander Columbus, the second_in_command to Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo_Asari, which was over 10 years ago. We donâ€™t have militants here.â€
Mainly, commander Jay was known to be an imposter.
How he deceived Anenih
Sometime, last year, a former Minister and powerful leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the South-South geo-political zone, Chief Tony Anenih, whose business interests include dredging, met with the supposed militant leader, claiming to be Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
Commander Jay is a young smooth-talker and he knew that the real Tompolo had one or two reservations over the dredging of the River-Niger, which the former minister was interested in. A meeting was arranged between him and the former minister who came down to an agreed hotel in Warri.
Both sides resolved to keep the deal secret but it was gathered a mouth watering sum of money was given to the impostor and more promised, as long as he supported the dredging project which the real Tompolo would not .
The governor of the affected state was kept in the dark until after the transaction with the ex_minister, who later called him to say that he had just finished a meeting with Tompolo , where issues of the dredging project were discussed.
This came shortly after the bombardment of the Gbaramatu kingdom by the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta, last year. The governor knew it was not the Tompolo he knew that met with the powerful South-South leader of the party, and he bluntly told him so.
The top politician doubted until Tompolo was contacted and he said he never came to Warri to keep a date with any ex-Minister and he was not the one that met with him. By the time the reality dawned on the chief, he had been defrauded of some undisclosed millions of naira.
Tompolo spits fire
Reacting to his purported meeting with Chief Anenih, last year, Tompolo denied any meeting with Chief Anenih.
His words, â€œI hereon disclaim any contact with Chief Tony Anenih on this issue as claimed. I remain among those opposed to it and I am committed to confront by any means necessary any real attempt to dredge the river without recourse to universal standards that are acceptable.
â€I also enjoin Chief Tony Anenih and Mrs. Madueke to tread softly: for this is an attack on our existence and identity. I consequently urge Mr. President to halt the process and direct government agencies to comply with agreeable standards for the management of the River Niger as a vital lifeline for our peopleâ€, Tompolo asserted.
Anenih meets bona fide Tompolo
It was in September, 2009 that Chief Anenih finally got the opportunity to meet the real Tompolo, when he in company of the former Minister of Defence, Major-General Godwin Abbe (retired), the governor of Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, honorary Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe met with the ex-militant at Oporoza. Our source however said Anenihâ€™s presence in the meeting was not because of the dredging project but because after meeting with President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua at that time, he became more convinced that the President meant his amnesty programme and joined others to visit Tompolo to prevail on him to accept amnesty.
An ex-militant leader in Delta state told Saturday Vanguard, â€œCommander Jay is not a militant; he is a 419 man and an impostor. I will not be surprised if he is the one that led those that carried out the Warri bomb blast because he can do anything for moneyâ€.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that after the secret deal between him and Chief Anenih was made public, some aides of Tompolo invited him and he confessed that he impersonated their boss. But there was practically nothing they could do, as they merely warned and left him.
Commander Jay paternity is also not known. While Patani people have disowned him, some people said he is from Sokobolor while another group said he is not from any of the two places.
What is, however, clear is that he is a ladiesâ€™ man and loves automobiles. He used to cruise in a fleet of cars and had a terrible accident in which he almost lost his life sometime ago. He lives in the oil city of Warri but because of his low ranking in the militant world, nobody reckoned with him even though he was said to have been involved in some â€˜kidnap for moneyâ€™ cases and all that.
Why Commander Jay is on rampage
An ex- militant leader confided to Saturday Vanguard, â€œThe militant who led the operation in Warri is not really a top person in the militancy world, but, he used to work under one of the ex-militant leaders that accepted amnesty. He did not accept amnesty and thought those who accepted amnesty were enjoying from the government; so, he found nothing wrong in accepting to carry out the latest bomb blast in Warri once some money was paid to him.
â€œSecurity agents cannot say they donâ€™t know his sponsors, we have given them sufficient information on that. They should find out the politician that brought the money for the job, they should also find out the boys that were used for the work. The interest of the politician is to rubbish the existing peace in the state and incite the populace to ask for a changeâ€, he said.
Commander Jay and Setraco
Commander Jay, according to Saturday Vanguard source, has, all through his life, capitalized on weaknesses and loopholes in the system to make money. Under the pretext of being Tompolo, â€œ young man has been fleecing the Setraco Construction Company over the years in respect of their ongoing East-West road contract. I wonder why the company falls for his gimmicks, but, I hear he is on the companyâ€™s payroll for security.
â€œWell, the company thinks he is Tompolo and has been giving him money for some time to settle his boys and allow them to do their job, which means he is the one kidnapping the workers of the construction firm on the East-West road to arm-twist them to give him money. That is the kind of thing he doesâ€, the source said.
He added, â€œOn this recent Warri bomb blast, itâ€™s obvious he is not the principal planner because he has no direct business to do with the government of Delta state or Vanguard Newspapers, which organized the post_amnesty dialogue. He was only used by others. All he is after is money because he is brokeâ€.
N250 million set aside to cause insecurity in Delta
Information pieced together by Saturday Vanguard showed that about N250 million has been allegedly earmarked for the explosion of 12 bombs and attacks on oil and gas pipelines in Delta state, in the next few months, except urgent actions are taken to forestall the arrangement.
Commander Jay, others on the run
As at Thursday, men of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in Delta state were still on the trail of the bomb expert, said to have been contracted to configure the 12 bombs, out of which two were detonated on March 15.
â€œWe have his name and we know he is from Awka in Anambra state, but, we cannot reveal it until we catch him. He cannot hide, he has no place to hide, and we have our men on him. He has to tell us all about the contract he was given to configure the bombsâ€, Saturday Vanguard learnt.
A security chief in Warri also told Saturday Vanguard, â€œWe have also received information on the militant that led the March 15 bomb_blast operation. We raided one of his hideouts, weekend, in Warri, but, he is on the run.
â€œWe got some useful information. We now have idea of those that contracted him to do the job and some of their future plans to discredit the peace and security agenda of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghanâ€™s government by planting bombs in vehicles and stationary objects and detonating them at important government functions or events where a large crowd is in attendance.
â€œHe is the hatchet man that is being used by some persons who we are already investigating. We want to know the exact connection between a particular Delta state politician and the militant leader when we get the bomb expert to tell us who paid the money for him to configure the bombsâ€.
It was gathered that men of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in Delta state raided the den of some militants suspected to have been involved in the March 15 bomb blast, but, most of them relocated since the day of the incident.
As at the time of this report, Commander Jay has fled his Warri abode. Those who saw him last said it was on March 14, day before the bomb blast. He and his co-conspirators were said have been frolicking with women and drinking themselves to stupor since the bomb blast.
Uduaghan should act fast
An ex-militant leader who saw Commander Jay when he came with a speedboat to one of the creek communities in Gbaramatu kingdom to source for dynamites two weeks before the Warri explosions told Saturday Vanguard, â€œGovernor Emmanuel Uduaghan has to act fast before these boys would cause more damage in the state. They plan to blow up oil pipelines, they want to sabotage the on-going Escravos-Gas-to-Liquid project, the JTF should maintain a 24-hour security on that project and on strategic locations in Warri, they would detonate more bombs to give the impression that security has broken down in the state.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that there were internal disputes among some ex_militant leaders, which the governor would have to resolve before peace could reign because it was such crack that some people capitalized on to recruit the people that carried out the bomb blast.
An official said the governor was addressing the crack but our source said, â€œHe should address it quick before the matter degenerates from the level it is today. Some of the ex_militants feel they are not being carried along; that the government should carry them along or they would upset the apple cart.
â€œThey plan to destabilize the state ahead of 2011 election and that will be dangerous for Governor Uduaghan if he does not rise up to the challenge. The truth is that the governor has the ability to shame his enemies by reaching out to the aggrieved persons before they use them to wreak more havoc. He should not take it as a strictly criminal act because some of them feel that they have not been productively engaged since they accepted amnesty or opted to work with the state government to ensure peace in the stateâ€, our source said.
And the man died:
*Killed few days to father’s burial
*In Warri bomb blast
CONTRARY to media report that a woman tomatoes seller, Mrs. Rebecca Okafor was burnt to death in the March 15 bomb blasts in Warri by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND), the Igben family of Oku in Elume, Okpe, Delta state have come out to disclaim the report, saying, it was their son, Mr. Alex Igben, a former contract staff of Elf Petroleum and father of two children that died in the bomb explosions.
Unfortunately, Alex died few days to the burial of this father, which has been fixed for the end of March.
The family members are asking for the remains of the deceased to enable them bury him , according to the customs and rites of his people, but, it is obvious that the request might be a tall order as independent investigation by Saturday Vanguard indicated that the victim was burnt to ashes.
â€œNothing was retrieved from his carcass, even those who saw the remains did not recognize the person as a man because he was completely burnt. It was because they saw tomatoes all over the place that they said it was a woman tomatoes seller that died.
But why did the driver of the vehicle tell newsmen that the deceased was a woman and gave her name as Mrs. Rebecca Okafor? A member of the Delta Waterways Security Committee (DWSC), Hon Omolubi Newuwuwi was said to have taken more than a passing interest in the claim and counter-claim and dug deeper to meet with the Igben family.
Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan on Thursday sent a team, led by the secretary of DWSC and permanent secretary, Government House, Annex, Warri, Mr. Patrick Origho to the home of the Igbens to commiserate with the wife and other members of the family.
One of the victims of the bomb blast is at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin City , where the government is also monitoring his progress. However, report that six persons died in the bomb blasts is not true.
The deceased friend, Mr. John Ogbeni told Saturday Vanguard in Warri that the late Mr. Igben called him on March 15 that he was coming to Warri and he told him to meet him at Ugbuwangue community.
â€œWe went around the community in search of the person he came to meet but we did not see him and I took him to Ugbunwangue junction to take a taxi to Ifiekporo community. This was between 11.15 am â€“ 11.20 am . They were six in the vehicle.
â€œI observed that a lady was amongst those that sat in the back seat of the Toyota panel van, the same car that was affected by the bomb blastâ€, he said, saying that was the last he saw of his friend.
The deceased brother, Mr. Sunday Edema said he was first alerted of Alexâ€™s disappearance by his wife, who said her husband had not been seen since Monday, March 15 when he left home and had, quite unusual of him, not called her.
â€œWe went to the police stations at Warri and Sapele in search of him and later the hospitals but there was no trace of him. Later, I called a taxi driver friend of mine to ask if he knew of any taxi driver that operates at Pere market area, if he knew of any taxi driver that carried people on March 15. He said yes, but that the driver was affected in the bomb blast. He told me the driver is alive, adding that he lives in Ubeji.
â€œI was later taken to one of the wounded passengers who told me they carried a man from Ugbuwangue market, that I should go and meet the driver of the vehicle. I eventually met the driver who confirmed it was his vehicle that was burntâ€, he said.
Edema said the driver called Faith told him that he carried somebody who wore a white top from Ugbuwangue market and he (Edema) told him that for five days, the family had not seen him, but, the driver told him that all the five passengers except Alex survived the bomb blast.
Alexâ€™s cousin, Mr. Austin Opubor said, â€œEverything points to the fact that Alex was the person in the front seat of that bombed car. We have not seen the corpse and we want to get his corpse to bury him as required by our traditionâ€.